Saturday, July 21, 2012

BB&T Atlanta Open – recap of Friday’s quarterfinals

With rain in Marietta yesterday morning, I was worried about Friday’s full slate of tennis matches at the BB&T Atlanta Open. Fortunately, when I arrived at Atlantic Station for my scorekeeper shift on Stadium Court, it was barely ‘spitting’ rain. Warming up were Belgium’s Xavier Malisse and American Michael Russell, who are doubles partners in the event; Russell was to play in the third quarterfinal match against fourth seeded Andy Roddick at 7 PM.

Belgium's Xavier Malisse
American Michael Russell

For whatever reason, perhaps the weather, the 1 PM quarterfinal match between Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller and Australia’s Matthew Ebden started a little later than the scheduled time, the players taking the court for warm-ups about 10-15 minutes late. Although TV cameras were now set-up in the Stadium, they would not be used until the second quarterfinal – an historic matchup between Japanese players eighth seeded Go Soeda and third seeded Kei Nishikori – at 4 PM. Also, there was now an ESPN-Tennis Channel broadcast booth erected on the site, off the southeast corner of the Stadium Court where there used to be a Corona refreshment station.

With the advent of television, and the arrival of statistician Marty, my scorekeeping duties changed. I would no longer be assigning points won to each player. Not only would Marty now be handling those responsibilities, he would be recording another layer of statistics for the commentators: forehand winners, unforced errors, etc. This required adding another computer to work in tandem with the one I was operating, but unfortunately they were not in sync during the first few games of the first match. No worries, Marty has been doing this since 1999, and was able to record all the goings-on by hand until the technicians were able to resolve what turned out to be a network issue.

Muller broke Ebden's serve once in each set

Muller broke Ebden early the first set, and was able to hold on to win it 6-4; he used a combination of big serves – 7 aces in the first set helped him to win 100% of his first serve points – and aggressive play, always looking to come forward to finish with an overhead or a volley.

Muller's big serve
and finish with an overhead
or a volley

The second set went much the same way, with Muller breaking Ebden’s very first service game, then holding on to win it by the same tally. The match only lasted 72 minutes, so there was a long break between the first and second semifinal. A trend that would continue when Soeda upset Nishikori 6-2, 6-1 in almost exactly the same amount of time on the court, leaving plenty of time for the day’s patrons to shop or visit the other activities at the venue. Roddick took perhaps a minute longer to best Russell 6-4, 6-3 before the 9 PM start of top seeded John Isner vs. wild card Jack Sock. Breaking the trend, the two Americans battled to a tiebreaker in the first set (each breaking the other once), which Isner finally won 9-7. The second set was also won by Isner, after a rain delay which caused the 2 hour 15 minute match to take much longer than that to complete.

Because of my senior men’s ALTA playoff match last night (which we won), I was unable to stay for any but the first quarterfinal yesterday and, because of my mixed doubles ALTA playoff match today, I won’t be attending (or working at) today’s semifinals matches – Soeda-Muller at 1 PM; Isner-Roddick at 7 PM – either. But I will be posting some additional photos from the week along with some personal reflections and anecdotes tomorrow morning before I head to the finals as a ticketholder for the third straight year.

No comments:

Post a Comment